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Know your rights in a Pennsylvania DUI stop

For many people, a DUI stop is the first time they have a serious encounter with the police. It’s normal to be nervous but remember: you have rights. From “implied consent” to how to handle DUI stops, you’ve probably heard conflicting advice from a lot of different people.

Below, we discuss common questions Pennsylvania residents have regarding DUI stops.

Do I have to submit to a breath or blood test?

Pennsylvania statute §1547 states that anyone driving or in physical control of a vehicle within the state “shall be deemed to have given consent” to breath or blood tests to determining blood alcohol level. Known as “implied consent,” this type of rule operates on the idea that drivers accept BAC testing as part of the deal when they choose to drive. Every state has some form of implied consent rule.

However, drivers can refuse to submit to a breath or blood test when they are pulled over. The officer cannot force you to take a Breathalyzer. But, keep in mind, penalties for refusal include suspension of your driver’s license for one year.

Can I refuse to perform field sobriety tests?

Technically, yes. The implied consent rule does not apply to field sobriety tests. However, refusing can lead to other issues down the line.

Can I turn away from a DUI checkpoint?

Yes, if you make a legal U-turn or a legal turn onto a side road. Under Pennsylvania case law, police cannot pull you over based only on the fact that you made a legal maneuver to avoid the checkpoint. If you go through the checkpoint and police stop your vehicle, open your window and speak to the officer. They must tell you the reason for the stop, and they can request your name as well as your driver’s license and insurance information. Beyond that, you can choose not to answer their questions.

Cooperating doesn’t mean rolling over

If you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, be polite and cooperate with the officer. But that doesn’t mean you have to volunteer incriminating information.